Salt & Pepper Ice Cream

May 13, 2022
8 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg. Prop Stylist: Anne Eastman. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog
  • Prep time 12 hours
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • makes about 1 quart
Author Notes

From afar, this scoop looks a whole lot like vanilla, with a creamy color and so many freckles. But one bite will tell you otherwise. Instead of that default dessert flavoring, this no-churn ice cream turns to the usual dinner seasonings: salt and pepper. First, smacked black peppercorns infuse heavy cream, until it is sultry and floral, with a playful kick. Strain, then mix with granulated sugar, a splash of vodka (to encourage scoopability), and salt of course, plus some more pepper for good measure. Whipping is our churning in this case, which you could even do by hand if you’re seeking a workout. While the mixture sets in the freezer, use those same ingredients (sugar, salt, and pepper) to whip up a salty-spicy brittle. (Emphasis on the spicy: You can drop the quantity to ¾ or ½ teaspoon for less sizzle.) And if that’s not your topping of choice, skip the brittle and swap in something else—say, sugared berries or stone fruit. —Emma Laperruque

What You'll Need
  • Salt & Pepper Ice Cream
  • 2 cups (454 grams) heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, divided
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vodka
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Flaky salt, for finishing
  • Salt & Pepper Brittle (Optional)
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup (99 grams) granulated sugar
  • Flaky salt, for sprinkling
  1. Salt & Pepper Ice Cream
  2. Add the cream to a saucepan and heat over medium until hot and steaming. Meanwhile, roughly crush the 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns (I use a mortar and pestle; a cutting board and heavy skillet works too). Turn off the heat and stir in the crushed peppercorns. Let steep for 1 hour, stirring occasionally for even infusing. Meanwhile, finely crush the remaining ½ teaspoon of peppercorns and set aside.
  3. Strain the cream into a large bowl (the same one you’ll whip in) and discard the soaked peppercorns. Add the sugar, vodka, and salt and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the finely crushed peppercorns. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least a few hours or up to 1 day.
  4. Use a whisk (this is a workout) or hand mixer to whip to very soft peaks. You can also do this in a stand mixer if you prefer.
  5. Transfer the whipped base to a freezer-safe container—I like using a loaf pan—and cover. Freeze for 8 to 12 hours, until scoopable. (Like all ice creams, this is best freshly frozen; if you’re eating it a day or two later, once it’s fully firm, let it sit out for a few minutes to soften slightly before scooping.)
  6. Serve with a pinch of flaky salt sprinkled on top, plus some brittle, if you’re including it.
  1. Salt & Pepper Brittle (Optional)
  2. Smash or grind the peppercorns, aiming for a mix of coarse and fine. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. (Or, if you’re comfortable with caramel-making, do this while the sugar is caramelizing.)
  3. Add the sugar to a small saucepan and pour 3 tablespoons of water on top. (If any sugar granules get caught on the sides of the pan, use a wet brush or fork to wash them down.) Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until it turns the color of dark maple syrup, keeping a close eye after the first few minutes; you can gently swirl the pan to encourage even cooking but avoid stirring, which can cause crystallization.
  4. As soon as the sugar caramelizes, cut the heat and use a silicone spatula to stir in the peppercorns. Scrape this mixture onto the lined sheet pan, quickly spreading it as thinly as possible. Immediately sprinkle all over with flaky salt.
  5. Let cool completely, about 15 minutes, before breaking and smashing into pieces, then transfer to an airtight container, where it will keep for at least 1 week.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Linda
  • tomike
  • David Buchan
    David Buchan
  • Anne E Fitzgerald
    Anne E Fitzgerald
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

5 Reviews

tomike October 15, 2022
I’ve made this twice. The first time was so easy and garnered rave reviews. The second time it wouldn’t whip, it just got slightly thickened and then broke and had to be thrown out. I followed the recipe to the tee both times so I’m not sure what happened
David B. May 31, 2022
Do not shrink from making this ice cream. Frankly, it has a deeply sophisticated taste which is quite remarkable - I was deeply surprised by the subtlety and complexity of the taste without the use of eggs, emulsifier, etc. The use of vodka is another surprise which truly imparts creaminess - a thought: consider using white peppers for imparting flavour. Thank you for providing this recipe. Much appreciated. David
Linda May 25, 2022
Can you put the cold liquid into and ice cream machine? Just can’t wait another 8 hours to try this!!
Anne E. May 19, 2022
So delicious-the ice cream has fantastic depth of flavor for really very little effort. The brittle was amazing-my first time having success with something caramel-ish. I used only 1/2 tsp pepper in the brittle and it packed enough heat for me-the combination of the two is really next-level.
John T. May 18, 2022
I loved this! Completely different, black pepper ice cream, who thought of this? But oh so good, pepper adds a flavor dimension that is, at the same time floral and, um peppery! Don't skip the brittle!